Last time with Helene Troy:

Helene stared into the cracked mirror above a dirty sink in the rock club bathroom. She held her calloused hands under a weak trickle of cold water. A dramatic toss of long brown hair preceded her rant to her friend, Jackson.

“Sadie’s great. She plays four instruments and has an amazing ear for chord changes. She’s okay with lyrics. But the girl can’t make a decision. I’m like her mom. She leans on me for everything.”

Helene turned off the water and shook her hands dry while looking into Jackson’s scruffy face.

“Mara’s become worthless. She hasn’t written for this band in six months. She smokes pot with Darcy or whoever she’s banging, then has the balls to question me for being late or working outside the band? I want to play with a good drummer but not one that’s a hypocrite and a backstabber.”

Jackson chuckled. Helene stood close to him.

“I just don’t relate to anything we do. It’s loud, riot-grrl shit that no one cares about, anymore. We’re good, but we’re never going to be great because Sadie has no guts and Mara has no heart. Also, I hate our manager. He’s the damn devil. And not the cool kind in Slayer songs.”

Jackson unfolded his muscular arms and responded.

“Helene, you just described my band and a million others. In five minutes, I’m going to play songs I hate. Your ex, my lead singer, makes me violently angry on a daily basis because he’s a self-absorbed baby. But it’s the game, and we have to play it we want to do it for a living. Otherwise, we play bars on the weekends and get a real fucking job.”

Helene walked into Jackson’s black-shirted chest. A knock bounced off the wooden door. Jackson embraced Helene and whispered through her wet brown mane.

“You have to believe in your talent and let that give you a clean conscience. Your booze is outside this door. Drink it as good as you played tonight.”

****blogger’s note****

This is another new episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: This 33 word piece is prompted by Trifecta Writing Challenge’s “Clean” –    clean (adjective)
1: free from dirt or pollution
2: unadulterated, pure
3 a : free from moral corruption or sinister connections of any kind <a candidate with a clean record>

Today’s song comes from a New York band that Slipper Socks Medium or The Golden Apples would’ve run across in 2008, The Bravery. The lyrics fit, and I like mood it sets. Here’s “Believe” -

Born of Frustration

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac. This is for you.

James was brawny and tall, 6″4″, with a coif of long blonde hair that layered over his impressive head and shoulders. I couldn’t stand looking at him, well, at least in the way everyone else beheld him. I felt like a little boy, a pipsqueak of nothing. No matter what I said, tried, did, played, or wrote, it fell at his feet like broken arrows in a bad television western. I was too young to understand that James was a moment in time not an era of accomplishment. We were early twenty-somethings trying to figure out if screwing or doing or brewing was the way to be men. He called me by my last name, an insult that kept me in a place, my pathetic place, of insecure discontent that walled much more anxiety that I already experienced through my own disordered brain. Women tossed their bodies at James, he’d treat most of them with groupie indifference, work when he wanted, and get away with things that would’ve crushed my reputation. I would get lost in plotting, scheming, and pontificating how I would make the idiots around me see how I was smarter and more interesting than him. Nothing ever worked. Instead of getting attention or, God forbid, poetic justice on the smug lug, my words and thoughts would wander like smoke trailing into my nether region of envy, born of frustration. Time showed James peaked, back then. He was only what he was in front of everyone’s face. My 5’8″ brown-haired twitch of motor-mouth, dark moods, grunge clothed, music lyric spouting, notebook writing stress ball was a work in progress. I was minor league to his major league. But looks fade, people change, things move, thoughts matriculate. I used to see James as this Goliath and me this pathetic David, slingshot unarmed, a fool’s view. Years have a way of evening scores while maturity and gravity laugh at them over lunch, something grilled and diet, of course. Cheers, James. Hope you’re well.

*****blogger’s note****

In celebration of one of the truest artists in history, Jack Kerouac,  and a nod to three prompts; StudioThirtyPlus’ “Envy” , Trifecta Writing’s “Trail”, and Write on Edge’s “This week we’d like you to write about a time you found yourself comparing yourself, unfavorably, with someone else. Focus on how the comparison affected you, negatively or positively.” I wrote in the unstructured, stream of conscience style of the late beat superstar. It’s a great day to celebrate being a writer.

Today’s song is a distant memory. This is something emo and dumb and almost forgotten that I listened to during my time of comparision to someone else. Here’s James – Born of Frustration.

Not A Pretty Girl

Last Time with Helene Troy:

Helene let the quiet of the Soho loft wash over her. Sadie and Mara were gone to change clothes for the show. The manager’s boots squeaked against the hardwood.

“Helene, be at the club by 9. I know you don’t go on til 10, but I want to introduce you to some people and take some pictures. The other two can be late, but not you.”

Helene waved at him with her left hand. Her right reached into her bra to pull out her favorite purple pick. It wasn’t there.

“Oh no! Where the hell did it go?”

Helene panicked and stumbled over two guitars then fell next to Mara’s drum kit. The manager appeared over her, holding the pick between his right thumb and forefinger.

“You dropped it next to Sadie’s bass.””

She refused his left hand and pulled herself up to meet his smirk.

“Helene why’s that pick so special? You can get one anywhere for a couple of bucks.”

She rolled her eyes and realized why disliked non-musicians. Their vulgar opinions about how artists lived made her angry. She acquiesced.

“If I tell you, will you do me a favor tonight?”

The manager pushed his thin lips together and nodded his head yes.

“I caught it at Ani DiFranco’s Pittsburgh concert in 2003. It was my 19th birthday present.”

Helene saw the manager glance at the door. She sighed and asked for his help.

“Ramona Gallery may be coming tonight. I don’t want to look lame by putting her on my list. Will you put her on yours? No one will ask questions.”

The manager replied, “sure” and began to walk away. As he turned the knob, he yelled to Helene.

“If I told you and the other two to wear something other than jeans and t-shirts you’d tell me to fuck off, right?”

Helene smiled and watched him leave. She strummed the acoustic guitar and passionately sang the first line.

“I am not a pretty girl
that is not what I do”

 *****blogger’s note****

This is my 333 word response to Ttrifecta writing Challenge’s  “Vulgar”. This is also a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here:

Today’s song is what Helene’s taking a quiet moment to sing, to herself. It means something different to her. Here’s Ani DiFranco’s Not A Pretty Girl….

Fell In Love With A Girl

Last time with Helene Troy:

Heat assaulted Helene as she climbed the steps of the train station to the street.  Her hands were covered in sweat from carrying the guitar case and dialing Ramona several times. She’d come to the final digit then shove the phone deep into her frayed left front pocket. The landlord was paid, the kittens were comfortable, but she was in turmoil. Her stomach ached from the distraction of not knowing how Ramona thought about her. She felt like a fool and she was being treated like one, too. Ramona was much older than her. She was a fling to an intelligent, experienced woman like Ramona Fucking Gallery, she thought.

“I can’t believe I’m falling in love with her.”

Helene dug out her phone and texted Ramona.

“I really hope you come tonight. I miss you already.”

She hit send and immediately hated herself.

“She’s going to think I’m out of my damn mind.”

Helene breathed in the thick summer air. Her throat tightened and she felt her backpack, unsuccessfully, for a bottled water. She tossed her wet, sticky brown hair away off of her neck and strode into the Soho Loft. She bounded up the stairs and spoke to no one as she dumped her belongings near the door.

Her bandmates, Sadie and Mara had delivered her electric guitar and amplifier. They attempted hellos but Helene ignored them and grabbed her instrument, plugged it in then shouted to Mara, the drummer.

“Stripes Girl on three!”

Her sweaty fingers barely held her favorite purple pick, dug out of her bra. With an overwhelming force she hit the guitar chords.  The stress of the relationships with Darcy Bridges and Ramona Gallery fought with the heat surrounding her. Helene’s voice sounded like it had been struck by lightning. It was wicked and dangerous.

“Fell in love with a girl, fell in love with a girl, fell in love once and almost completely, she’s in love with the world but sometimes these feelings
can be so misleading…”

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can read the rest of the story, so far, here: There are two prompts inside this story one is “Fool” from Trifecta Writing Challenge, which also require I write mo more than 333 words: and For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Supermaren challenged me with “struck by lighting” and I challenged Sir with “tall, dark and handsome”

The White Stripes’ two minutes of guitar awesomeness provides today’s song. Enjoy….

If It Isn’t Her

Last time with Helene Troy:

The sound of water bathing rattling dishes in the kitchen sink distracted Ramona to Helene’s vibrating cell phone. Helene grabbed it and headed to the bedroom to remove the dress and shoes and pack them until it was time to get ready for her show. Darcy was calling.

“Darse, what is it?”

Helene heard her whimper. She looked around the bedroom for Ramona then walked into the closet to talk to Darcy.

“Darse, this has been coming for a long time. Just do me a favor. When you get to the apartment, stay out of my bathroom. Two kittens are in there. The landlord knows.”

Through more whimpering, Helene heard Darcy utter a muffled, “I miss us Leney.”

Helene felt a hurt across her chest. She held the phone against her forehead and tried think of how she’d reply. She brought the phone back to her ear responded in a way she’d regret.

“I miss us too, but that’s not what this is about. I have to go, Darse. I’m with someone else.”

Helene hung up and dropped the phone to the carpet. She stripped down to her bra and panties and looked for her jeans and t-shirt. Ramona’s long fingers moved over the small of Helene’s back. They were cold from the kitchen sink water.

“Leney, should I be jealous?”

Ramona had heard the phone call, Helene assumed. She straightened her posture. Ramona’s hands moved to her hips. She didn’t turn around. She feared Ramona’s expression.

“I’ve moved on, ‘Mona. I really want us to happen.”

Silence moved throughout the apartment into the small closet. Ramona’s body purred against Helene as she hugged her from behind. She nestled Helene’s bare shoulders with her nose.. Her hands caressed Helene’s pulsating stomach.

“Leney, I realize you don’t have time. I just want you to know I really want us, too.”

Helene dropped the jeans from her left hand and turned to Ramona. She tossed her brown mane, smiled provocatively and answered.

“I’ll make time.”

***blogger’s note****

This is a new episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: This is in response to a Valentine’s Day prompt from Trifecta Writing Challenge: A love story in 333 words, not using 33 cliched words.

Today’s song is perfect for the this scene. Ani DiFranco strips down the message to this – If it isn’t her, it isn’t here. Helene pushes Darcy out of her life and lets Ramona in. Nothing will be the same.

It’s Alright, It’s Ok

I was tired of hearing “she’s in a better place”. I wanted her back. I missed the way her hair smelled after we got out of the shower. I missed her freezing toes on my bare legs when we got snuggled into bed every night.

Three weeks had passed. I hadn’t touched any of her things. On her favorite oaken book shelf, two of her Leah Andreone’s CDs leaned against a framed picture of us at the beach, taken the weekend we met.

I promised myself I wouldn’t delve into the past. That damn picture and those more damned CDs talked to me.

With them in my right hand, I walked into the kitchen so the setting sun, her favorite time of day, would show through the windows. I laid everything on the table where we’d go over our weekly calendars, argue about money, and eat her gourmet meals. I opened the media player next to the bowl where we kept our car keys. I grabbed the nearest Leah Andreone album. It was the one I couldn’t stand, but she loved, called Alchemy.

I inserted the disc and hit play. The music was moody and I began to cry. I couldn’t stop thinking about that weekend we fell in love. The picture showed the two of us laying on petunia colored beach towels, grinning, with dinosaur egg candy in our open mouths.

I grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge, opened one with my teeth, and starting drinking. The tears wouldn’t stop. I needed a lie. I needed something. I ejected the CD and played the other one. It had the hit song, something called It’s Alright It’s Ok. It made the beer taste better. By the time the second beer went through me, I’d listen to that song severaltimes. The sunset, the picture of her from years ago, and my want created an image of her shimmering in front of me. I just wanted it to be alright and be okay.

****blogger’s note****

This is a doubled prompted fiction piece. For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Supermaren challenged me with “Alchemy, dinosaur egg, petunia” and I challenged Grace O’Malley with “At a Barnes and Noble book store in Daily, Georgia, Heath Dipolo is standing in line behind Tish Bejerano. Have them fall in love in 600 words.” Second for 333 words for the word “image”.

Today’s song is the one mentioned in the story. It’s Leah Andreone’s It’s Alright, It’s Ok.


I spent months wishing that her blue eyes would to look at me with want.  I’d been the shoulder that held her hurt from every boy.  I longed to have her long blonde hair and always tanned skin against me.This time was different. We were single at the same moment. She called with wonderful news. She wanted me to help her move back home.
It was a five hour drive in pouring rain across two states. She asked me if it was too much trouble. I said I didn’t mind. Overhwhelmed by romantic thoughts, I chose to skirt the truth. It was her. The possibilities of where we could go played in my mind like Casablanca. This time, Bogie would get Ilsa, I thought.
I pulled into the driveway, behind an unfamiliar blue Toyota Corolla. Its hatchback was packed full of her things. Her car, a yellow Honda Accord, sat untouched near the entrance of the house.
An odd wave of anxiety came over me. I always felt comfortable when I was about to see her. This time, it was like walking into a dark room on Halloween. She had said that I would be the only guy around. As I jogged along the stone walkway, in a steady downpour, I tried to convince myself it was me, not my truck, she wanted.
The large, wooden green door was locked. I could see through a small diamond shaped window. A woman with short black hair and tattooed arms embraced who I wanted. They kissed, passionately, the way I wanted her to kiss me. Their lips engulfed as their hands explored one another. I didn’t knock. I was defeated by an opponent who was more skilled. I would remain forever unrequited.
Frightened, confused, and pissed off, I left my truck keys on top of the welcome mat. My tears were indistinguishable from the rain that poured down my face as I crossed my arms and walked away. The storm bathed me in regret.
****blogger’s note****

This is a response to the week seven prompt of Trifecta Challenge 

skirt (verb)
1 to form or run along the border or edge of
to provide a skirt for

3 to go or pass around or about; specifically : to go around or keep away from in order to avoid danger or discovery

My friend Marian, aka @runaway_tweets helped with editing of this piece. Please visit her on twitter or

Today’s song has always been my interpretation of heartbreak but in a sarcastic form. This is from The Cult. I’m in a mid 80s mood this week, apparently. Here’s Love Removal Machine. Play it really really loud…

Call It Off

The loft Ramona led Helene into looked remarkably different than the last time. Three dark green couches formed an L shape looking out of the bay window.  A small, square soundproof room with plexiglass walls had been constructed in the middle of the room. The producer stood inside of the odd structure with what appeared to be a sound engineer. Two sound mixing boards and office chairs crowded them. A wave of nervousness moved over Helene.
“Are you recording your stuff, tonight? I thought you were taking time off to write for other people? That’s what we did last time.”
Ramona took their respective belongings and placed them inside a small closet. Her expression was flat and determined.
“I’ve gotten over my writer’s block. I called Capitol Records and told them I was ready to start working on something new. That’s how I got the studio time and money to hire you and the producer. Let’s get to work.”
Helene removed her acoustic guitar and looked around the space. Several instruments including a full drum kit, a baby grand piano, and six electric guitars lined the largest wall to her left side. This was her first time in professional recording setting.  She struggled to maintain her composure and not let on to Ramona, the producer, or the three musicians coming in the door, that she was emotionally overwhelmed.
Everyone exchanged pleasantries and sat down on the couches. It was the same crew from the previous, informal session. They all tuned their acoustic guitars, then the producer spoke over an intercom.
“Ramona, start off with that peppy Make Me Naked thing. It’s really different.”
The woman Helene had looked up to since she was 7 years old strummed a chord progression that sounded familiar. Helene joined in because she knew the song, well. She stared blankly at Ramona with angry green eyes and her tongue punching the roof of her mouth. The song Ramona Gallery, famous singer-songwriter, was playing wasn’t her own. It was Helene’s.
***blogger’s note***
This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, here:
This episode was inspired by my friends at Trifecta Writing
ROOF noun \ˈrüf
1 the cover of a building
2 the highest point
Today’s song was easy. Tegan and Sara’s Call it Off is that inner monologue we all go through when someone ticks us off or something is just too heavy and you want to want away. Plus, any excuse I have to play these two sisters, I’ll take. Here’s Call it Off…

This Wicked Tongue

Helene picked up her guitar and other things from the bar. Chelsea, wounded and sullen from Helene’s poisonous tirade toward her earlier, clumsily filled beer mugs.  Helene opened her mouth to apologize when Ramona yelled from the door.

“Taxi’s here, Leney!”

The rain had stopped. There were several inches of water pooled in the street. Helene lost the grip on her guitar case. In catching it from hitting the wet pavement, she fell on her back. Ramona saved her backpack and guitar. Soaked and embarrassed, Helene laughed. Ramona laughed with her. The taxi driver shouted.

“You want a ride or not?”

Helene slowly got up and looked into Ramona’s wide smile. The lines around her middle-aged eyes and mouth told stories that Helene desperately wanted to hear. They climbed in the backseat and the cab pulled away from Mickey’s bar. Helene was terrified to speak. Ramona put her at ease.

“My place is closer to the studio. You’re going to be playing and writing songs til dawn. We don’t have time to dry anything but you can have some shirts. I still have clothes from my skinny bitch days.”

Helene alternated thoughts between seeing Ramona’s brownstone with a customized studio that she read about in Spin magazine, and amazed anyone thought she was skinny.

“Oh Ramona, I’m not skinny! I’m 129 lbs on a 5’5″ frame. If I wasn’t so poor, I’d eat enough to be a cow.”

Ramona rolled her eyes and grinned awkwardly while barking to the driver.

“Take your next right! “

She stared into the New York darkness and lowered her voice to a hurting cadence.

“Leney, this vicious bitch in People magazine said, reviewing my last CD,  that my songs were a departure from my salad days and bumpy ride into my macaroni and cheese times. I’m 20 pounds heavier than I was 20 years ago when I stuck my finger down my throat, daily.”

Helene reached her left hand around the cumbersome guitar case separating them, and touched Ramona’s right hand.

****blogger’s note****

This is not only a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy, the rest of which you can find here: but also a 333 word response to the boys and girls at Trifecta Writing: The challenge:


1: destructive, harmful

2: having the properties or effects of poison : venomous

3: spiteful, malicious

I’m proud of today’s song. It’s something Helene and Ramona would have in their CD collections and play on stage. Here’s PJ Harvey’s This Wicked Tongue….

Bring Me Some Water

Last time with Helene Troy:

A second day of rain engulfed the city. Helene never used umbrellas or raincoats. She arrived at Mickey’s Bar and Grill for another 12 hour shift drenched and angry. She flipped back her hoodie and reached into her backpack. Water had seeped through a small hole in the side. Everything was damp, including the small, black cell phone held together by duct tape.

“Leney, I’ve been trying to call you!”

It was her bandmate Sadie. Helene held the slick phone an inch from her ear and panted her answer.

“Sorry, Sade. I had to run from the train.”

Sadie worked for a trucking company in dispatch. Helene could hear the hydraulic brakes of big rigs.

“Jamie’s going to play basketball in Greece. My other roommate is cool with you taking her room. I asked her about kittens. She said you’ll have to pay the pet deposit. I’ll help after we get money opening for The Golden Apples.”

Helene smiled but she was anxious because neither Ramona Gallery nor the producer had called about her coming to the studio later in the night to write and record music for Capitol Records. She thought about it more than her band.

“Thank you! I’m going to go ring myself out.”

She walked into Mickey’s, grabbed three hand towels off the bar and burst into the women’s restroom. She removed her hoodie, throwing it to the floor.

Helene looked into the mirror with defiance.

“If Ramona was me, she’d call.”

It went to voicemail. As quickly as she’d summoned the nerve to phone her musical idol, she lost it, and hung up before the beep.

She dried herself off then applied mascara and eyeliner. She poked herself in the left eye when the cell phone danced on the soap dispenser. It was Ramona. Helene answered with her eyes closed.

“Leney honey, I’m in a cab in Queens. The producer told me your bar’s on the way to the studio. We’ll drink a few beers then ride over together.”

***blogger’s note***

This was prompted by Trifecta: . The challenge was write 333 words based on the third dictionary defintion of the word SUMMON which is: “to call upon for specified action” . I chose Helene calling her idol, Ramona. It’s a pivotal moment, you’ll find out about later.

This is also a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can read the rest of the story, so far, here:

Today’s song is a good rocker about infidelity from Melissa Etheridge. I know she’s singing about another woman. In this case, Helene is cheating emotionally on her band with Ramona Gallery and thus something better later on down the line.

Here’s Bring Me Some Water. It works best really loud…..